Personal automation doesn’t always give you more free time. You need to be intentional in deciding what to automate to avoid creating more work. To start thinking critically about automation, ask yourself these simple questions:
- Does the task require your personal attention to get done?
- Does the task consume lots of time?
- Can you avoid too much personalization?
A yes on all three means it is definitely a good candidate for automation.
For example, let’s say you want to quickly set up phone calls with people you met at a seminar you’ve given. Your problem and the current process could look something like this:
Problem: I have trouble reaching out to all new prospects and then setting up a time for a catch-up call that works for both of us.
Current process: Go through your contact list. Reach out to each prospect with an email reminding them of who I am and asking them for a catch-up call. Wait for a response. Send emails back and forth until you find a time that works for both of you. Set up a reminder for call.
Now, let’s run this workflow through our criteria:
- Does it need our attention to get done? Nope. In fact, I’d rather this run in the background.
- Is it time consuming? You bet it is. There’s lots of unnecessary back and forth for a simple follow up.
- Does it require much personalization? It could, but it doesn’t have to. Writing a generic email reminder for all these follow ups is probably just as good as writing each one individually.
In this case, it looks like we’ve got a workflow that’s a good candidate for automation.